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First Generation White Collar
A Money Book Summary

First Generation White Collar, by L. Marie Joseph, 98 pp.

On Halloween, Marie Joseph’s sister took her trick-or-treating in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. She’d never seen such wealth. Compared to her family’s modest wood bungalow, the houses looked like the stately mansion in Gone with the Wind. That night, Marie determined that she wanted to be wealthy.

She attended college and landed a good job, but being first-generation white collar, she didn’t know anything about building wealth. In addition to her student loan, she borrowed for a new car, furniture, appliances and vacations. Rather than saving for the good life, she financed it, learning painful lessons before achieving the success she longed for.  

Fortunately, Marie shares those lessons in her book so that college students and recent graduates can gain benefit from her hard-earned wisdom the easy way – learning from another’s mistakes rather than their own. Her lessons are practical, specific, and simple:

·        Pay off your credit cards each month.

·        Save up for items rather than borrowing.

·        Save 30 percent of your income and live off the remaining 70 percent.

·        Don’t take out a student loan more than you can expect to earn in a year at your first post-college job.

·        Set aside a substantial (six months of household expenses) emergency fund.

·        Invest for the future with mutual funds from respected companies like T. Rowe Price, Fidelity and Vanguard.

·        Purchase a house that you can afford. Your payment should be under 30 percent of your income. Another rule of thumb: the price of the house should be no more than two and a half times your salary (“two times if you want to be wealthy”). Get a traditional loan – not an ARM or interest only.

·        Work on your social skills – your number one asset for landing a great job.

·        Protect your wealth with adequate insurance.

·        Have a greater purpose in life – volunteer and give to worthy causes.

As with any book, think for yourself and make sure that the advice makes sense for you. For example, in chapter 5 Maria advises that to get rich, you should eventually start your own business. Yet, I think readers should be cautioned that starting a business isn’t a guarantee of success. Many smart people put tons of time and energy and money into businesses that eventually fail. It’s a risk that doesn’t reward everyone. In my opinion, many people would be happier working as a professor than running a school, working as a lawyer than run a law firm. Some people are more cut out for running a business than others.

A huge benefit of this book is its length – 97 pages. You get lots of wisdom for a small commitment of time. I think most readers, including me, appreciate that.

Steve Miller
President, Legacy Educational Resources
Author of Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It

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